When discussing Rangers, Hibernian boss Alan Stubbs stated earlier this month:
“It’s very easy when you’ve got money to spend to bring in much better players than what was there at the start.”
Gers manager Mark Warburton responded by telling the Hibees coach to ‘concentrate’ on his own club and not worry about Rangers.
The fact is that Stubbs made a cheeky jibe, that was designed to pile pressure onto his rivals.
The comment isn’t entirely accurate as Rangers were woeful last season, yet spent more than Hearts or Hibs who both finished ahead of the Ibrox club last term.
Rangers are certainly on the up at the moment and have started the campaign with a bang.
The light blues have won all four of their league encounters so far. They’ve also progressed in the League Cup and the Challenge Cup.
As August nears it’s end, the Gers have played eight times so far this season. They have won all eight fixtures, scoring a whopping thirty goals and conceding just five!
Those victories included wins over teams thought to be their closest league challengers; Hibs (twice), St Mirren and Queen of the South on Sunday.
The teams vibrancy and fluid passing style has been extremely exciting to watch. The Rangers faithful seem to have fallen in love with their new boss and his footballing philosophies.
As far back as 2012, when Rangers found themselves competing in Scotland’s bottom tier, supporters of the Ibrox club have been calling for an overhaul in terms of player recruitment and putting more faith in the clubs youth players.
But their calls fell on deaf ears. Club legend Ally McCoist seemed void of any creative inspiration when it came to tactics and managing the transfer market. Coisty would use boring, turgid formations and bring in a bunch of old Gers players who were past their best.
Although Ally also had to deal with constant boardroom dramas created by previous board regimes.
When McCoist was relieved of his duties earlier in the year, I said that the best thing for Rangers to do was to hire a new boss who didn’t have a Govan connection himself. The role needed a fresh approach.
Warburton has given Rangers a new system, philosophy and even a new lease of life.
When going forward the Gers side are very quick and simply cut opposing defences apart with their high tempo and quick passing play.
The full-backs have been superb and work well with their wingers as they overlap and make a lot of interchanges.
Players like Andy Halliday, Jason Holt, Nicky Law and Arsenal loanee Gedion Zelalem are all adept at keeping the ball and finding a defence splitting pass that assists the forward players.
Striker Martyn Waghorn looks to be a player who can be a great focal point for this side. The former England under-21 hitman has already bagged six goals in eight appearances this campaign.
I think central defensive duo Rob Kiernan and Danny Wilson are still trying to form an understanding but I’d imagine that will come with more games.
Goalkeeper Wes Foderingham needs more time to get used to his new role. Obviously not scared to receive the ball at his feet and he’s a decent shot-stopper but the English keeper needs to understand that higher concentration levels are a must for any goalie at Ibrox. Goalkeepers can go through the majority of games without doing much at an Old Firm side but then suddenly get called into action. That process will be fairly new for Wes and he’ll have to get used to it. Once he does that, he will see the Gers support less nervy about his performances in between the sticks.
Warburton has promoted the youth players, who have came up through the clubs academy. Barrie McKay, Ryan Hardie, Fraser Aird and Tom Walsh have all been used so far this term.
Wide-man McKay has been the success story as he’s been an ever present this season and also helped his teams cause with two goals. Not bad for a player, who spent last season out on loan at Raith Rovers.
Mark Warburton has had great success in the loan market this transfer window. Dominic Ball and Nathan Oduwa have come up from Tottenham Hotspur and Zelalem from the Gunners.
Maverick winger Oduwa has been a bit of a sensation what with his tricks and his showboating. But he has been used effectively so far in the league, coming off the bench and attacking at tiring defenders. His quick feet and tricks get him beyond his markers and draws in fouls, great when you have James Tavernier standing over your freekicks.
Getting back to Alan Stubbs comments, regarding it being an easy job at Rangers because of the money available at Ibrox. That does his Gers counterpart Mark Warburton nothing but a disservice.
I’d argue that the Rangers manager’s contacts have given the Gers the x-factor this summer not their cash reserves.
Warburton has brought in hungry, young players who relish the chance to impress 50,000 home fans at Ibrox. He has also persuaded English Premier League managers to loan him some of their talented youngsters. That is due to reputation, not money.
The Gers gaffer has also rejuvenated Rangers with a team that press and punish their opponents with silky passing, continous running and by scoring plenty of goals. All done with a young, improving squad!
Now the Scottish footballing public can’t sit back and just discuss the present, they also need to debate the future.
Could Rangers challenge Celtic next season? Well another great trait from Warburton is that he won’t allow his attention to be distracted by such talk.
What is for certain is that Rangers fans can once again enjoy going out at the weekend and watch their team play and excite them. While the players can also take heart that they can once again applaud their own fans without feeling embarrassed.